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HIV/AIDS: Three Scenarios For Africa

A new report presents three scenarios of how the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa could develop over the next 20 years. The report from UNAIDS says depending on what actions are taken today, up to 43-million HIV infections could be avoided by the year 2025.

Mahesh Mahalingam is a UNAIDS prevention expert. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about why the multiple long-range projections were released in the report entitled - AIDS in Africa: Three Scenarios to 2025.

He says, “I think there’s a lot of interest in HIV/AIDS from different parts of the world and we thought that we need to have a longer perspective of how this AIDS epidemic will play out in relation to Africa. We’re very excited about the possibility of looking into the future so that we can make appropriate decisions today.” The UNAIDS official says it’s similar to what businesses do with their long-range projections.

The first of the three scenarios mentioned in the report is called “Tough Choices.” He says it’s a scenario drawn up by 50 Africans working on the project. He says the project states, “Africa as a whole should come together. They should stand for themselves. And they should determine how Africa responds to the epidemic. Tough choices means they have to make choices on who gets prevention, who gets access to anti-retroviral treatment…and Africa a whole comes together and says we have to put this epidemic behind (us).”

The second scenario in the UNAIDS report is called “Traps and Legacies.” Mr. Mahalingam says, “Traps and Legacies is a scenario that looks at what happens when there is no coordination of the AIDS effort. When there is no understanding of what are the drivers behind the epidemic and everybody doing their own thing.” Another characteristic is a decision maker opting for the “quick fix.”

The third and final scenario is entitled “Times of Transition.” Mr. Mahalingam says it’s “the getting together of everybody who believes that the AIDS epidemic has to be put behind together. This means the international community, Africa as a whole, the Civil Society, individuals themselves, all come together to forge a new partnership, a new vision.”

The UNAIDS report says, “The scenarios suggest that, while the worst of the epidemic’s impact is still to come, there is still a great deal that can be done to change the longer-term trajectory of the epidemic and to minimize its impact.”